The short answer is yes, provided that:

  • Your spouse does so in a country that has the jurisdiction to deal with the divorce; and
  • Serves you with the divorce petition in the proper way

In many divorces more than one country will have potential jurisdiction. And in Europe at least, if your spouse starts proceedings first you will only be able to stop them in very rare circumstances.

Why Does The Country Of Divorce Matter?

The eventual outcome in relation to finances and arrangements for children can differ hugely depending on where your divorce case is heard. As a result there is often a big incentive for one party to issue proceedings in a country of their choice (assuming the criteria for divorcing there are met) without giving notice to the other. Consider the following:

  • The courts in England and Wales are traditionally recognised as being more generous to financially weaker spouses
  • Different jurisdictions adopt varying approaches to valuing and dividing pensions, trusts and businesses
  • The tax treatment of any settlement will differ from country to country
  • Some legal systems are cheaper to use and more efficient than others

Does The Country Your Spouse Is Starting Proceedings In Have Jurisdiction?

Your spouse can only issue proceedings in a country with jurisdiction. In the EU this means fulfilling the criteria set out in the Brussels II Convention. In England and Wales this depends on the concepts of domicile and habitual residence. In other European countries nationality is usually the determining factor.

If your spouse wishes to divorce in a country outside the EU the situation is not so clear-cut. He or she will have to satisfy the rules regarding jurisdiction for that particular country. And what if one party to the divorce objects to the choice of a non-EU country as the place to commence proceedings? Then the courts will have to engage in a delicate balancing exercise to decide the correct forum for the divorce. As we have illustrated above that decision could have far reaching consequences for both sides in terms of any final settlement.

The issue of jurisdiction is often complicated, particularly when a non-EU country is involved. At Brookman we are familiar with international jurisdiction rules and have represented clients divorcing in countries across the world. If you would like to discuss any of the points we have call us on +44 (0) 20 7430 8470.

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I spoke with Aziz at Brookman Solicitors on the phone for an initial consultation and he is one of the friendliest lawyers I have met. He is clearly very experienced as he patiently explained me all the concepts and processes which are quite daunting for someone in my situation, and then focused on the actual questions I wanted to ask... I would highly recommend Aziz and Brookman Solicitors.

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I had online consultation with the partner Henry Brookman today. I was very happy with the service. I found him to be very insightful, knowledgeable and provided sound advice, as well as being kind and patient. It was a very comfortable discussion and he sent an email detailing our discussion very quickly discussing in our meeting in depth. I am amazed by the service we got just from a free consultation. I would highly recommend these solicitors!

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I contacted Henry Brookman because of the complex international aspect of my divorce and I’m very glad I did... Henry took his time explaining all the pro’s and contra’s... I now have a much clearer view over the situation and feel more confident going forward. I’m very grateful for the excellent advice I’ve received and not feeling rushed during the meeting.

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